Saturday, July 28, 2012
Noroi: The Curse (2005)
In general, I am not a fan of "found-footage" films. Something about the shaky hand cam and people screaming all over the place does more to annoy than to frighten/keep me in suspense. Noroi: The Curse is a movie I've been putting off for the past few years for this very reason and after watching it today, I wish I hadn't waited so long.
Noroi isn't a straight found footage film, but more of a documentary or "mockumentary" if you will. It revolves around paranormal researcher Masafumi Kobayashi. He has just finished up his latest investigation video titled "The Curse" and a few days later his house goes up in flames, his wife dies and Kobayashi goes missing. Noroi is basically the viewer watching his last tape to see what led up to these events.
There are 2 very typical Japanese horror devices that make up this movie:
(1) This movie is slow and can be considered long at just under 2 hours (and it uses ALL that time, no 10 minute ending credits or other filler). This isn't like Audition slow, but it does evolve at a certain, very intentional pace. At first, it seems that all the stories Kobayashi is investigating are unrelated, but over time, connections start to form and details that seemed trivial become important.
(2) This movie isn't scary per se, but it is creepy and creates a feeling of discomfort and intrigue more than outright fear. There are no jumpscares, no loud noise scares, none of that. There are barely any special/makeup effects (I can think of only 3 scenes). Asian horror movies have a tendency to create tension and creep factor rather than just scaring the audience with startles and props/effects.
One can definitely draw comparisons between Noroi and The Blair Witch Project (there is a handheld running through the woods scene) and maybe a little bit of The Grudge in terms of the theme. But what it lacks in originality it makes up for in effect.
This movie isn't for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and can't stop playing it over in my head, which I wasn't expecting. It keeps you wanting to find out what's going on, and you feel like you're investigating right along with Kobayashi, spotting clues, putting pieces to the puzzle together. To call it a supernatural detective movie would probably be the best description, so if that piques your interest, give Noroi a try.